The maxim that “water is life” has never had more serious implications—reaching back into history, down into spongy aquifers, and up into kitchen sinks. Three in ten people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and six in ten lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. Today’s strained water systems are one of the public goods that have been most resistant to total capture by private capital. But this capture—coming largely in the form of convoluted financial maneuvering and hybrid management schemes—is nevertheless well underway. In urban areas especially, infrastructural services blur the nominally sovereign borders between public works and corporate monopoly. If there is a right to water, who holds the rights to the pipes?

Liquid Utility is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University as part of their project "Power: Infrastructure in America."

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13 essays
Mumbai’s water network has long distributed water, difference, and inequality through the city. Delivering over three billion liters of water...
Andrea Muehlebach
An unprecedented local referendum in 2011 forced the city of Berlin to remunicipalize its water utility after more than ten years of partial...
Adriana Garriga-López
Puerto Rico is composed of several sub-tropical islands in the eastern Caribbean. Sources of fresh water in Puerto Rico are abundant. 1 Hundreds...
Andrea Ballestero
Inherently multiplicitous and predisposed to vary, water confounds attempts at fixity. Water’s defining traits are a tendency toward...
The notion that land requires improvement because its inhabitants are also in need of civilizational uplift, and vice versa, is no accident of...
Jacinta Ruru
According to the worldview of my ancestors, wai (water) is everything. To us, the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand, known collectively...
When our small group of activists began resisting the privatization of Seattle’s municipal transportation system in 2012, we were confronting a...
Marcela Olivera
In Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia, water and its scarcity are at the center of daily life. Water is both a productive source of...
Catherine Coleman Flowers
To the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Thank you, Chairwoman Napolitano,...
Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe
Not only the sun. Man-made tunnels, cisterns, and terraces to channel and retain water in Sicily have turned the largest Mediterranean island into...
Elizabeth A. Povinelli
1. Where is Brussels? Reflecting on W.E.B Du Bois’s inner state as he walked along Brussels’s great park and palace at Tervuren in 1936,...
In the shadows of Elmwood Cemetery on Detroit’s east side, Bloody Run Creek flows freely. Most of its waters have been buried by urban...
Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Reinhold Martin, Jacob R. Moore, and Jordan Steingard
Liquid Utility is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at...
Category
Colonialism & Imperialism
Subject
Water & The Sea, Infrastructure, Extractivism, Privatization, Neoliberalism

Liquid Utility is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University as part of their project "Power: Infrastructure in America."

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